Visiting the Valley of the Kings Near Luxor in Egypt
The Valley of the Kings is located on the West Bank of the Nile River near Luxor in Egypt. During the greatest period of ancient Egyptian history almost every pharaoh was buried here in tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The tombs in the Valley of the Kings have been hewn into the rock and decorated with extraordinary art.
To date, 63 tombs have been discovered in the Valley of the Kings and there may still be more to come, making this the richest archaeological site on earth. The numbers assigned to the tombs in the Valley of the Kings represent the order in which they were discovered, but a better way to approach the Valley of the Kings is to visit the tombs in the order in which they were constructed, as they are presented here. In this way it is possible to witness the flowering and eventual decline of ancient Egyptian tomb art.
Top 10 Tombs in the Valley of the Kings
1. Tomb of Tuthmosis III (No.34)
2. Tomb of Amenhotep II (No.35)
3. Tomb of Tutankhamun (No.62)
4. Tomb of Horemheb (No.57)
5. Tomb of Ramses I (No.16)
6. Tomb of Seti I (No.17)
7. Tomb of Merneptah (No.8)
8. Tomb of Ramses III (No.11)
9. Tomb of Ramses IV (No.2)
10. Tomb of Ramses VI (No.9)
Tuthmosis III (No.34)
Tuthmosis III was one of the first pharaohs to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb is at the furthest end, burrowed high into the mountainside in an attempt to thwart thieves. The tomb decorations from this period are very crude, with figures rendered as stick people.
Amenhotep II (No.35)
This is one of the deepest tombs in the Valley of the Kings, with 90 steps leading down to the various chambers. Amenhotep II ruled immediately after Tuthmosis III and this tomb has similarly basic wall paintings, as well as containing Amenhotep’s sarcophagus.
This is a very small tomb, but it is one of the most visited thanks to the story of its discovery by Howard Carter. All of the treasures have been removed and visitors must be content with seeing the king’s mummy, which lies inside a gilded coffin.
The introduction of bas-relief in this tomb, in which figures are carved out before painting, shows an advance in tomb art. Not all figures are finished and it is fascinating to see the work in various stages of completion.
Ramses I (No.16)
Ramses I ruled only for a single year and his tomb is correspondingly modest in size. It has the shortest entrance corridor in the valley leading to a small burial chamber. However, the colours of the tomb paintings remain particularly vibrant.
Seti I (No.17)
If you visit only one tomb when you visit the Valley of the Kings, it should be this one – the longest, deepest and most lavishly decorated tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The vaulted burial chamber boasts a beautiful ceiling, showing the constellations surrounded by a line-up of deities.
One of the many sons of Ramses II, Merneptah’s tomb almost equals that of Seti I for grandeur. This is the first tomb in which the axis is completely straight, terminating in a tomb chamber containing the pharaoh’s magnificent granite sarcophagus.
Ramses III (No.11)
This is also known as the “Tomb of the Harpists” after the bas-relief of two musicians. Unusually for a royal tomb, its colourful reliefs include scenes of everyday Egyptian life.
Ramses IV (No.2)
Ramses III was the last of the great pharaohs. The quality of the craftsmanship in the tomb of his successor is noticeably poorer than those that came before.
Ramses VI (No.9)
This tomb has very dense decoration, representing sacred texts and imagery, central to which is the voyage of the sun god Ra through the underworld and his victorious reemergence in the morning.
The Valley of the Kings is a hot dry desolate place to visit so if possible it is best to get there either when it first opens of an hour or so before it closes. There is a visitors centre with lots of market shops full of over zealous vendors desperate to take your money for their goods. This has become a bit of a problem for tourists since the People’s Revolution in January 2011 due to the drop in numbers of tourists visiting Egypt. The vendors have become more aggressive with their selling style but they do understand the word NO and you just have to say NO and keep walking and they will eventually give up and leave you alone. Do not feel threatened by this in any way because they are just trying to make a buck to feed their family.
The Valley of the Kings is a must see plae to visit and it is best done with a knowedgeable egyptologist. Here at Spiritual Egypt Tours we only work with the best there is and we have the most amazing visits to the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Why not come with us on our next tour of Egypt.
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